Posted by: Mark Nielsen | January 31, 2013

Capturing Shadows – original poem by Mark Nielsen

The evening light casts a shadow of a replica ...

The evening light casts a shadow of a replica of Michelangelo’s David onto the wall of in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Capturing Shadows            [by Mark Nielsen, circa 2011, with some 2013 additions]

Look! It’s a shadow —
shadow of a bud on a branch
on a screen in a window of a bedroom.

This trickster shadow
is both there and not quite there.
It is wide maple leaves
in their winter sleeping bags,
only just now unzipping.
But it is also an absence of life,
only a gray, hazy intimation of green
on a screen,
an image that soon will not be seen.

It is not the branch
but the shadow of the branch,
and not even the whole shadow, at that.
It is the absence of sun
on the front of a screen —
metal mesh, every millimeter
of which is alternately
there and not there,
and there again,
all in the shape of a square.,
frames stretched within a frame,
holes next to holes in a hole in the wall.

This screen
is the pourous skin of my room,
the membrane of my cell.
Air passes through,
light passes through,
but my hand will not pass through.
I am both trapped here
and embraced:
embraced by home,
(for the things that belong here
know that I am one of them),
but haunted by elusive memories
like shadows on a mesh screen.

Only the Light is free,
comes and goes as it pleases,
as it teases the trees :
now shining to strengthen
the contrast of shadows,
then hiding in clouds
to make shadows fade.

This light teases me as well.
I have no reason not to hope–
not to believe that the leaves
will arrive in two weeks.
Yet looking out this window
is like looking at an unseen future:
I see the shadows and suggestions
of future memory, good and bad —
pain and possibilities,
neither of which I sought
but both of which I must welcome.


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